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Hong Kong courts

Girl, 2, left blind and on life support after Hong Kong father’s abuse, court hears

Chung Kei-yuen, 26, admits unleashing his frustration on three occasions as well as threatening his mother-in-law with a knife

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 September, 2018, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 September, 2018, 10:55pm

A Hong Kong father slapped and shook his newborn daughter as part of abuse so damaging it left her blind and dependent on machines for survival, a court heard on Monday.

Chung Kei-yuen, 26, admitted to the High Court that he had unleashed his frustration on the weeks-old girl on three occasions in 2016, after the kitchen hand, who works long shifts, had his sleep interrupted by his crying daughter.

On the last of those three occasions he also threatened his mother-in-law with a knife after she suggested the girl might have died.

Chung pleaded guilty to one count of criminal intimidation of the mother-in-law, and three further counts of ill-treating the daughter, who has since lost the ability to breathe and is relying on a life-support machine.

“He is going to live in regret for the rest of his life,” his barrister, Paul Leung Po-sang, said in mitigation.

Chung burst into tears in the dock when he heard how his actions had caused the girl brain damage. Now almost two years old, she is fed medication through tubes to help regulate her blood pressure and urination.

The court heard how doctors had to remove the vitreous body of her right eye – the clear gel between the lens and retina – due to internal bleeding, leaving her blind. She was supposed to undergo the same surgery on her left eye but it became impossible after the retina fell off.

Prosecutor Juliana Chow Hoi-ling said all three assaults took place in December 2016 when the baby was about a month old. Chung would slap the crying girl three or four times before holding her up and shaking her four or five times.

After the final attack on December 28, Chung took to the internet, searching for terms such as “bb’s body turning cold”. He sent her to a health clinic three hours later.

“Is she dead?” the mother-in-law asked Chung, who in response waved a knife at her. “If so, we need to call the police.”

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Doctors concluded the girl had been subjected to “abusive trauma”.

In mitigation, Leung said his client, 24 years old at the time, had been under a lot of stress as the primary carer for the girl, even as he worked long shifts in a kitchen. His girlfriend, the mother of the baby girl, spent most of her time browsing the internet and playing online games, the court heard.

Chung’s mother-in-law had moved into the home to help with the child, but had done little to contribute, only making the flat more of a mess and irritating Chung, his lawyer said.

Leung added that Chung had tried to stop the baby crying without hurting her after being awoken on the three occasions.

“Not being able to control his emotion and without an understanding of the consequences, he caused the incidents to happen,” the lawyer said.

But Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam noted that Chung would have been aware his daughter weighed only 7kg at the time.

Pang scheduled a session for Tuesday to sentence Chung, who faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment for each child abuse charge and five years for criminal intimidation.